GBH worked with the Yotel capsule hotel brand during 2011/12, to help redefine its proposition, identity and environmental graphics ready for its expansion outside of Europe. Yotel was originally the brain child of Simon Woodruff, founder of Yo-Sushi and was positioned as part of the ‘Yo’ brand. As such, it’s original identity reflected the futuristic, Japanese influence of the sushi restaurants, but featured a cube icon to represent the compactness of the hotel rooms. The hotels were located only at airports and offered a mix of innovation and utility wrapped in a futuristic style.
With plans to expand the brand into a 650 room building in New York, situated between the 4th and 22nd floors, offering much larger and more luxurious rooms, a stylish roof terrace, bar, restaurant, lounge and gym, there was a requirement to rethink the way the concept communicated, which of its elements to to build upon and which to leave behind!
From the start we saw the opportunity to build on the original values and personality. It was time for the capsule story to evolve to accommodate the upgrade in the offer without losing the core concept of innovative use of space with a futuristic, Japanese aesthetic. The first step was to rationalise the existing identity and create a full set of guides for use by marketing teams as well as hotel staff. The cube was removed from the logo to move focus away from ‘capsules’ but importantly the phrase ‘Smartspace’ was introduced into the Yotel vocabulary as a way of communicating the innovative functions and features that each room comes with, such as space saving fold-away beds and clever storage areas.
Working closely with London based interior design agency Softroom, of particular excitement was the exterior entrance at ground level, which now takes on the look of an illuminated building from the future and sets up the customer expectation. Once inside the lobby though, it’s the Yobot, a fully working robot which takes, handles and stores luggage, that steals the show. With such a large space to be filled, there was a wonderful opportunity for drama and the Yobot makes no mistake in communicating the modernity, innovation and style of the brand.
Inside the hotel itself we identified the areas and touch points of the environment that we felt could best communicate the brand personality and allow us to treat mandatory information in a fresh way. Design work included signage (over 1200 in all!), in-room items, staff uniforms and communal area graphics. Many services which are normally staffed in a hotel are self-service at Yotel; automated check-in/out, a galley kitchen and ‘take-out’ restaurant and provided perfect opportunities to marry a futuristic form with operational functionality. The cube icon from the original logo was re-instated within 3D signage (a subtle reminder of the room aesthetic) while graphics were kept to a minimum and echo the clean, futuristic lines and modern materials of the interiors. Meanwhile this influence even extended to language, with the naming of the 24 hour concierge desk as “Mission Control” and the rooms as “Cabins”.